Introduction: Homemade Medieval Letter Opener
This Instructible will take you through the steps and techniques necessary to make your very own medieval letter opener out of some wood, leather, wire and yes ... a bolt. and this will make a great Christmas gift to a medieval enthusiast or a gift for a great Dad for his desk. (who I'm making it for) and as this was a gift this tool engraver would have been cool to engrave his name http://www.craftsman.com/shc/s/p_10155_12602_00961050000P?vName=Power+Tools+%26+Equipment&cName=Power+Tools&sName=Portable+Power+Tools&prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=L1
Step 1: Materials & Tools
* Cloth - any kind will work it will only be covered in leather and wont be seen as wide as the grip of your letter opener and about 10 inches long(scrap is just fine).
* Bolt - any kind really but you must think about the shape you want your letter opener to be (size, width, and thickness must be taken into account) i used a 10 inch long half inch bolt(the best is the kind w/out the threads the whole length. (you can find these at home depot pretty cheap) this is what I used http://www.homedepot.com/Tools-Hardware-Hardware-Fasteners-Fasteners/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xg6Zar9h/R-100337973/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 .
* Wire - between 18 and 20 gauge is best you'll want it to be shiny(I'm using some jewelry wire I got at Michael's craft store it is copper core silver plate wire.) you'll need about 2-4 ft.
* Leather - I'm not actually using leather cause I found some nice vinyl at a local fabric store (this is for the handle so whatever size yours is is what you'll need I'm gonna use about a 18" x 1" piece) can be found at any fabric store.
* Sand paper- 100, 250, 400, and 600 grit
* Steel wool- Kind: #0000 http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xg6/R-100212006/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 . for finishing can be found at hardware store .
* SteelBuffing compound- for polishing can be found at a hardware store.
* Torch- I used an Mapp-gas torch cause its what I have but a blow torch or a forge would have been better.
* Heavy Mallet- I used a 3 lb. Mallet.
* Files- coarse, medium and fine.
* Pliers or Vice grips- to hold the bolt while striking.
* Ear protection- unless you want a headache (past experience . . . the worst one I've had).
* Heavy duty gloves- I used welders gloves (to protect from burns).
* Anvil- or hard heavy metal surface on which to work the metal.
* Grinder- to rough out surface.
* Buffing wheel- to polish it.
* Vice - to hold letter opener while filing.
I did all my shopping at Homedepot
Step 2: Shaping & Hammering
This step is where you'll draw out the rod to the length and the width you want.
Tools required for this step: Vice grips or pliers, torch, anvil, hammer,
First use your torch or forge (if you're fortunate enough) to heat up the tip of your rod (about a 2-3 inch section. heat it till it is glowing orange but be sure not to burn the steel this will damage it permanently.
*To draw out the metal you will strike the rod beginning at the tip where you have heated and you will hit with sliding blows length ways towards the tip and this will slowly make it longer. Do this on both sides of the blade.
Note: repeat the heating and drawing out while slowly moving Down the length of the blade up to the point that you want your handle to start (be careful not to flatten this part this will be your tang).
Shaping Cont. :
* Next, once your blade is drawn out you will begin to strike the edges of the blade flattening it until it is the width you want. in this part you will also do this the whole length of the blade. Also do this on both side of the blade.
Step 3: Shaping the Pommel
This step is optional.
Tools required for this step: Vice grips or pliers, torch, anvil, hammer, vice
The pommel, in sword terms, or the butt of the hilt A.K.A. the back end of the blade.
You can shape this in any way you like but I will tell you how I did it.
Shaping the Pommel:
* Heat up the end until orange.
* Set it on the anvil and hammer until on side is flat the turn 90° and repeat until four flat sides have been achieved.
* Heat up the end until orange.
* Then turn 45° hammer until flat and turn 90° and repeat until four flat sides in-between the original four have been achieved.
After a basic shape is achieved by hammering it you will repeat the process above but instead of hammering and heating it you will just be turning and filing the already flat sides.
Step 4: Shaping the Tang
This step will show you how to shape the tang of the blade which will become the handle of your letter opener.
Tools required for this step: Grinder ,Welders Gloves, cup of water (to quench hot metal)
* (refer to first image) Use the grinder to shape the Shoulder of the tang on both sides of blade.
* This will get hot so use welders gloves and water to quench the blade every so often.
Flattening out the tang:
* (refer to the third image) Hold the metal so that you are gripping the flat of the blade and grind the tang moving back and forth to begin to remove metal to create a flat side.
* Once it is flat a shown in picture 4 flip to the other side and repeat.
Step 5: Filing the Blade and Creating the Bevels
This step goes through how i filed it smooth and made the bevels.
Tools required for this step: File, Vice
Filing the blade smooth:
* Place the tang in the vice so the the flat of the blade is is visible from above.
* Holding the file perfectly flat against the blade start at the back of the blade and in one fluid motion hold the file against the blade and move forward towards the tip while moving the file from right and ending on the left side by the time you get to the tip of your blade. (note: hold the file at an angle as shown in the pictures)
* Repeat this motion until the blade is perfectly smooth and flat with no divots or valleys in the blade.
* Once the flat of the blade is done flip over and repeat the above steps.
Creating the bevels:
This process is similar to the one above but differs in that you will be holding the file at an angle of about 20°
* Noting the change in the motions use the technique described above in the earlier part of this step create a bevel on both sides of each edge. (note: make sure bevels are even and smooth and are not wavy)
Step 6: Sanding the Blade
This step is when your piece begins to get shiny.
Materials Required for this Step: Sand paper, Steel wool
Sanding the Blade:
* Hold the tang in your non-dominant hand and with your dominant hand hold a piece of sand paper (100 grit) and fold it in half over the edge of the blade and sand up and down the length of the blade until you don't see scratches from the filing step and a uniform new set of lines is achieved. Now take a fresh piece and fold over other edge and repeat.
* Do the same as above but switch to 250 grit sand paper.
* Do this again but switch to 400 grit, then 600 grit, then switch to the steel wool.
Step 7: Polishing
This is the polishing step in which you will make your project very shiny.
Materials and Tools: Polishing compound, buffing wheel
* Take your polishing compound and with the wheel running touch the wheel with it for a few seconds.
* Then grab your blade and begin to push it into the wheel firmly (note: hold your piece tightly or the wheel will take it from you) and move it back and forth all over the blade until a uniform shine is achieved all over.
* Repeat for reverse side.
Step 8: Wraping the Handle
Here I will show you how to wrap your letter openers handle.
Materials and tools:20 gauge wire, pliers, vice leather, cloth, tape.
* Taking your piece of cloth wrap it around evenly.
* Then take the tape and wrap it all up and down the handle.
Twisting the wire:
* Cut about a 2.5' section of wire and bend it in half.
* Place the bent end in the pliers and the other in the vice the evenly twist the wire until it resembles that of the image below.
Wrapping the prepared handle:
* Take your strip of leather and cut about a 15° angle at one end.
* Hold it up against the pommel as shown in image below then wrap making sure to have some overlap but not to much about 1 mm proceed to wrap all the way up.
* Hold with one hand the end of the leather and with the other hand take your twisted wire tuck it under the leather at the pommel.
* Then wrap around twice tightly making sure to grab the leather then proceed to follow the spiral all the way to the blade and once you reach the end wrap twice and tuck it in on the last loop.
Congratulations!!! your done. You have your own medieval letter opener.
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